How to choose the right veterinarian

Whether you’re moving to another state, or you’ve just adopted a new friend, here’s everything you need to know about finding a veterinarian and veterinary hospital that’s right for you.

It’s a good idea to choose an animal hospital that prides itself on meeting and exceeding the typical veterinary standards in the areas of:

  • emergency services
  • pain management
  • contagious diseases
  • surgery and anesthesia
  • radiology services
  • pathology services
  • nursing care
  • diagnostic capabilities and a well-stocked pharmacy
  • dentistry (should have dental x-ray capabilities)
  • examination facilities
  • pet medical records
  • housekeeping and maintenance

Ask your neighbors, friends and coworkers who they use

Get recommendations from friends or coworkers who feel the same way about their pets as you do. If you consider your pet a member of your family, ask people who think the same way.

If you’re moving far away

If you’re moving to another area, ask your current veterinarian for a recommendation. Area veterinary medicine associations also have lists of active members, often with special interests such as avian and exotic medicine.

Tour the practice

When you find an animal practice you think you like, ask for a tour. The hospital should be proud to show you its facility. During the tour ask yourself the following:

  • Is it clean?
  • Do the animals seem comfortable and safe?
  • Are dogs and cats separated?
  • Does the equipment look up-to-date?
  • Is there too much clutter?

heights veterinarianSchedule a “get acquainted” meeting

The worst time to find a veterinarian is when your pet becomes ill and really needs one. Instead, schedule a brief get acquainted meeting so you and your pet can meet with the veterinarian. This meeting will allow you to ask about hospital practices and determine if this hospital is the “right fit” for both you and your pet. An effective veterinarian-owner-pet relationship is a partnership and communication is key.

7 questions to ask a veterinary hospital

When considering a veterinarian, some basic questions you might ask:

  1. Can you request an appointment with a certain veterinarian? The answer should be yes.
  2. Do you have a large network of specialists if needed? The answer should be yes.
  3. What is your telephone policy? They should have educated staff available to answer your questions over the phone. But you should always be able to leave the veterinarian a message to call you back.
  4. What is your response to emergencies? If your pet has a serious emergency (automobile accident), the hospital should be able to see you immediately or arrange for your pet to go to another hospital that can.
  5. How long should I have to wait to schedule a routine appointment? Most practices should be able to schedule an appointment within a couple days, depending on how busy they are, and how urgent your pet’s needs are.
  6. What types of payment methods do you offer? Ask the practice to make sure that they are set up to accept the types of payments you need.
  7. Do you have an email system where I can schedule appointments and ask questions? An increasing number of practices offer online services. Ask to see if they offer these types of services.

Keeping your pet healthy is very important. But your veterinarian can’t do it alone. It’s up to you to work in partnership with your veterinarian to give your pet the care he/she needs to live a healthier, happy life.

About the author: Hilary Granson

15 comments to “How to choose the right veterinarian”

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  1. Gary Puntman - October 29, 2018 at 9:53 am Reply

    I like the idea of touring the facility beforehand. I would definitely like to do this to make sure it is clean and that the animals seem safe, like you said. I’ll schedule a meeting time to do this to make sure I know what I’m choosing for my dog.

  2. Gerty Gift - October 30, 2018 at 11:55 am Reply

    I liked your recommendation to ask your current vet for any recommendations if you’re moving. I never thought to consult her before. It would be great to get her opinion on anyone so that we have somewhere to start.

  3. Mark Murphy - November 1, 2018 at 1:24 pm Reply

    I really appreciate your tip to try and find a veterinarian clinic that keeps good records. My wife and I have been thinking of getting a new dog for our son, and we want to make sure that our dog has the right care so he is healthy. I will be sure to tell my wife that we should find a vet that keeps good records!

  4. Rosie Beckett - November 7, 2018 at 2:43 pm Reply

    My favorite part of this article is when you say to tour potential facilities because this way you can find out if the practice is clean and has up-to-date medical equipment. I recently moved to a new area and I need to take my dog in to see the vet because he is having trouble eating and can’t keep down most of his food. I want to make sure that the vet I choose is qualified and will provide the best treatment options for my dog, so I will look for someone who has been in business for a long time and has positive reviews from their clients.

  5. Gerty Gift - December 3, 2018 at 11:28 am Reply

    I liked your suggestion to ask your friends and coworkers who they use. My husband and I just moved and are looking for a vet for our two pets. We’ll be sure to ask around and check that they have emergency services just in case. Thank you for the help!

  6. Tiffany Locke - December 6, 2018 at 12:30 am Reply

    Your advice to get recommendations from your current veterinarian when moving to a new location, as well as friends and coworkers, would be useful. Once you’ve gotten their recommendations, it might help to research the potential veterinarians online. This could give you the opportunity to learn more about their experience and services so you can figure out whether they’ll be able to properly care for the kind of pet you own.

  7. Derek Dewitt - December 19, 2018 at 9:15 am Reply

    My wife and I just got a kitten so we are looking for a local vet to start visiting. I like your point about asking if the location employs a large network of specialists. Having all the resources and experts we need in one location would be really convenient so we’ll be sure to ask about this.

  8. Bethany Birchridge - December 20, 2018 at 1:27 pm Reply

    My boss just got a puppy, so he’ll need to find a great vet to take care of her. It was helpful when you mentioend that he should ask which payment methods the vet offers, as it can help him determine in the vet if affordable for his needs. Thanks so much for all the great tips choosing a vet.

  9. Ellie Davis - December 26, 2018 at 8:59 pm Reply

    Thank you for pointing out that when you visit the office of a vet you should make sure and pay attention to if it is clean. My husband and I just moved to a new area and need to find a vet for our puppy. I’ll have to do some research and find a vet in the area that we will love.

  10. Ellie Davis - December 29, 2018 at 4:36 pm Reply

    Thank you for pointing out that you should make sure and look into the emergency services the vet offers. I’ll have to keep this in mind as I search for the best vet to take care of my new puppy. Hopefully, I can find one in my area I love working with.

  11. Camille Devaux - January 8, 2019 at 8:18 pm Reply

    My sister moved into a new area the other week and needs to find a vet to go to. She wants to make sure that her puppy is taken care of. While choosing one, it makes sense to ask about scheduling and appointments.

  12. Taylor Bishop - January 10, 2019 at 9:26 am Reply

    I wanted to thank you for this advice for picking a veterinarian. It’s good to know that you can learn more about the telephone policy in the veterinary hospital, like if you can ask questions and get answers over the phone. This seems helpful if you occasionally just need quick answers regarding your pet’s health.

  13. Gerty Gift - January 14, 2019 at 9:47 am Reply

    I liked what you said about getting your pet and your vet acquainted before they have to go in for any illness or anything like that. I’d never thought to do something like this to make sure that my dog was more comfortable in this kind of environment. It’s definitely something that I would love to do when we find our next vet so that she can be as comfortable as possible.

  14. Ellie Davis - January 15, 2019 at 9:47 pm Reply

    Thank you for suggesting that you should make sure and look at cleanliness when it comes to choosing a vet. My husband and I just bought a puppy and she is needing to go in for her vaccines. I’ll have to do some research and find the best vet in the area to give them to her.

  15. Ellie Davis - January 17, 2019 at 6:38 pm Reply

    I really appreciate that you point out that you should check and make sure you can request an appointment with a specific vet. My husband and I just bought a puppy and we are needing to find a vet. I’ll have to do some research and find the best vet in our area.

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